Federal Court Grants Stay on EPA-Promulgated Okla. FIP to Curb SO2 at Four Coal Units

A federal court on Friday granted a request by Oklahoma for a stay of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) final rule requiring the reduction of sulfur dioxide emissions at four electric generating units in the state pending a review of the rule.

As POWERnews reported, Oklahoma’s Attorney General Scott Pruitt had in April filed a motion with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of the state, Oklahoma’s largest generator Oklahoma Gas & Electric (OG&E), and Oklahoma Industrial Energy Consumers to stay the EPA’s regional haze rule.

The motion challenged the legality of the EPA’s federal implementation plan (FIP) promulgated last December after the agency found deficiencies in it and partially disapproved Oklahoma’s submitted State Implementation Plan (SIP). The FIP imposes stricter sulfur dioxide limits on six Oklahoma emission sources, including three coal-fired plants: two owned by OG&E and one by American Electric Power (AEP).

The OG&E-affected units are Units 4 and 5, both 500 MW, at the Muskogee plant, near Muskogee, Okla., and Units 1 and 2, both 500 MW, at the Sooner Generating Station, near Red Rock, Okla. According to the state, the EPA-promulgated FIP would require OG&E to spend more than $1.2 billion to install dry flue gas desulfurization scrubbers on four generating units over the next five years.

"We conclude that the stay factors have been met in this case, and we therefore GRANT the motion for stay pending hearing by the merits panel," wrote the court in its order on Friday.

“This is a significant victory for the State of Oklahoma, and it temporarily prevents the EPA from enforcing a federal plan that will raise utility rates for Oklahoma consumers,” Attorney General Scott Pruitt said in a statement to POWERnews. “The EPA exceeded its authority under the Clean Air Act and we will continue to challenge that decision to preserve the ability of Oklahoma stakeholders to create an Oklahoma solution.”

Sources: POWERnews, 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Okla. Office of the Attorney General

—Sonal Patel, Senior Writer (@POWERmagazine)

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